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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000885.txt from 1999/06

From: "Carl Schexnayder" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] saxophone low register
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 19:26:06 -0400

I would also like to mention that, if you have a Yamaha saxophone or another
brand that has set screws, you may be able to fix the problem by simply
adjusting the set screws. These come into play when, by pressing one key,
you also close another. Both must close equally completely.

An even better solution than using onion skin to test for leakage is to use
a leak light. There's a really fantastic one listed on the web at

Carl Schexnayder

----- Original Message -----
From: Donald L. Longacre Don L <>
Subject: [kl] saxophone low register

J.H. writes about difficulty with alto sax low tones.

This is one of the bugaboos of saxophones that Adolph Sax didnt foresee.
There is a mechanical tendency in saxophone design for instability in the
low register and it can be exacerbated by leakage. Here is what you can do:
Cut a strip about 1/2" wide out of onionskin paper or use a strip of
mylar tape from a casette. Take the neck off the instrument and set
with the sax across your lap with the bell on your right. You said your
problem began at low D. This means your leak is at low D or ABOVE.
Close the D pad and with the other hand, see if it rocks back & forth.
Even if it appears OK, slip the thin paper under the pad and then close
it again with the force you would normally exert in playing. Gently and
slowly pull the paper strip out and note the degree of tension the closed
pad is providing. Do this around the tone hole in at least four locations
noting the relative resistance at each location. You will instinctively
sense differences if they exist. Obviously the easier the paper slips
out, the poorer the seal of the pad to the tone hole. If it is OK, go
UP to the Eb key which is normally closed. Here you may have to remove
the keyguard to get around the pad. (Careful with the screws, set them
where you can find them and don't drop them. Murphy's law, like gravity,
is always there) Keep going UP with this test. You will note,I'm sure,
the RH F,F#,E also close the LH Bb key. Check this one each time you
check the RH keys. Often the linkage mechanism will not be the same for
all keys affected on the Bb key. Don"t worry about bell pad checks till
later. Your leak is at D or above. By now you'll know what to look for
and can take steps to correct any leakers. Intermediate and high end saxes
(some of the low end, too) have screw adjustments to bring the linkage
into alignment. If your problem suggests it can be fixed this way, study
closely the cause & effect of each screw adj on all keys it influences.
In a gross leak, you can exert pressure on the keypad to compensate for
a poor seating. I have used heavy rubber bands around the horn and over
the key of interest forcing a change in the seating. The key is closed
against the hole, under pressure.

When playing, some players overcome leaks by "honking" the low notes.
This is OK if your playing "In the Mood" and the last two bars of low Bb.
You should be able to articulate the horn with a subtone and not play
sharp. A soft reed will get you there, but the trade off is a lousy
altissimo. Baritone sax players have no problem but then they seldom
play altissimo notes. "Slapping" or "spanking" the note is only
overriding the leak and fingering with a vise grip. You shouldn't have
to do that. There is more, but this note is too long now. If I can help
further, write me off-forum. Good luck, Don

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